From expanded functionality and enhanced transformation planning, driven by up-front insights to additional new product content and extended access to test automation solutions, 2023 will be a big year for SAP support.
SAP is moving into the second year of its transformation of support. Andreas Heckmann, executive vice president and head of Customer Solution Support and Innovation at SAP, is excited about all that’s planned. “We’re making great progress on our comprehensive vision to serve customers better along the entire lifecycle. We look forward to providing an even better experience around customer self-services,” says Heckmann. “This year is going to be a year of getting even more prescriptive and offering even more guidance to our customers. Functionality will be substantially expanded with a lot more content added for new products.”
In this conversation, Heckmann gave more details on the goals and progress of this vision.
Q: SAP Business Transformation Center will be introduced at this year’s SAP Sapphire, held in Orlando, Florida. Can you give details on what’s planned?
A: Customers will see a first version of what we call SAP Business Transformation Center. This is part of the business transformation suite. The focus is to support customers in the planning stage of their SAP S/4HANA software transformation. With this, customers can simulate their transformation and plan and anticipate what the transformation could look like when complete. Let me give an example. If a customer says, “What will it look like if we exclude certain company codes or business data?” they will see in real time what this means to the amount of data and information needing to be transformed. The ultimate result is up-front insights that help customers shape and drive their transformation planning.
Can you share what’s planned around SAP Cloud ALM?
We’ll deeply embed business process modeling capabilities of the SAP Signavio portfolio in SAP Cloud ALM – our strategic cloud-based platform for customers to manage their entire application lifecycle. Customers can get access to a world-leading business process management solution to discover and adapt SAP best practices for accelerated solution delivery. Our focus is to give customers the best possible experience for their business users.
We’re also extending access to the SAP Test Automation solution by Tricentis to our SAP Enterprise Support on-premise and cloud edition customers at no extra cost. Our customers can use the solution to help automate testing during their SAP projects and validate their business processes when new SAP releases are applied to the SAP solution landscape. We expect to seamlessly integrate the Tricentis testing capabilities with a fully automated setup within SAP Cloud ALM. These cloud-based test automation capabilities will help ease the testing of the SAP solutions and help facilitate the adoption of SAP cloud product releases.
In a world where we want to innovate and deliver value to end users and customers at an always higher speed, SAP and Tricentis are significantly lowering the barrier to test automation. I’m very satisfied with the great partnership with Tricentis. This unique solution now brings test automation capabilities fully integrated in our business transformation suite for SAP Enterprise Support customers.
You mentioned plans for new support functionality. Can you give some examples?
We are reshaping our content and knowledge management strategy to give customers a more robust search experience that leverages artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning optimizations, and analytics functionalities. This search index scans knowledge from many different data sources during a single search. “SAP for Me” will be the main entry point to SAP support and for searches. Additional features help us understand and optimize the search and knowledge relevancy at every step of the support journey.
Within Real-Time Support, we expect to see progress on the bidirectional dialogue in Built-In Support and SAP for Me. This proactive, two-way communication will help keep customers informed about news related to the solutions they are using, alert them to potential issues to watch out for, and deliver support-critical information they need to know.
Furthermore, our focus for Built-In Support is to provide predictive and preventative support. Our biggest wins are when we resolve potential problems without customers even knowing a problem might exist or could have occurred. Our AI services help us continuously improve the quality of real-time recommendations for when customers search for a solution to an issue or create a case for support.
This year, Built-In Support will expand into more SAP solutions and will grow the functionality and adoption across our cloud solutions.
There’s also a lot going on in SAP internally as part of the transformation of support that indirectly benefits customers. Can you describe a few of these indirect benefits?
An important internal change is that we’re increasing our capability of cross-expert interaction. More and more cases require close collaboration of various experts with different knowledge, experience, perspectives, and so on. We’ve introduced an internal framework and technology that lets experts dynamically assemble and quickly collaborate on the same problem. This reduces redundancy, eliminates handover delays, and collapses the time it takes to get experts aligned. That obviously accelerates the resolution substantially for our customers.
We’ve greatly improved the predictive capabilities of our cloud solutions. These predictive capabilities will give us early indications when something isn’t right. This, in turn, prompts us to start analyzing the situation and take steps to mitigate and resolve issues before the customer even recognizes or experiences problems or service degradation on their end.
These capabilities have been successfully tested and applied to a set of our solutions. This year we’ll extend the reach of these technologies and onboard increasingly more solutions. Plus, we’ll also integrate this more closely into our processes so our experts can respond swiftly to evolving situations.
What suggestions do you have for customers in 2023?
While our focus is to be more prescriptive and provide more guidance to our customers, it’s important that they also make an effort to stay up to speed on the things we’re doing. Follow closely on what we’re doing, embrace the new ideas and improvements, and start consuming them. It’s my motto to “delight customers always,” and we’ve had the customer in mind with all the improvements that we provide and whatever we do.
Customers should talk within their organizations about how they can use all of these improvements. If you have questions, reach out to us. Let’s explore together how you can make best use of them. At the end of the day, we can invent the best features and options, but if customers stick to their old ways and don’t embrace new approaches, they’re missing out on the many benefits that can make their work lives easier. That would be a shame.
Follow Andreas Heckmann on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Regina Postman is part of Customer Solution Support and Innovation Communications at SAP.